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NBA 2022 off-season: the Durant Decision


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3 hours ago, Calibandar said:

I'm watching Winning time, finding it more interesting than I originally thought.

Have you guys watched it, and what did you think?

I didnt watch any basketball in the 80's being a kid but this show, while taking many liberties apparently, is at the same time an interesting NBA history lesson for me. The Lakers-Celtics feud. Magic's rise. Kareem already being 32 at the start of the show in 1979 and then adding 9-10 more years to his career. The amusing character of Jerry West. Adrien Brody as a young Pat Riley is cool. I had never heard of Jack McKinney but the actor portrays him in a marvelous way, I had to google to see what happened after his bike accident.

I really liked the first season while recognizing some of it was fabricated for dramatic effect. Typically I don't like sports shows because they tend to screw up the athletic side of things, but WT got real hoopers and it stands out.

Cracks me up that Danny McBride trained for two years to throw a baseball for EBaD and it still looked kinda meh.

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5 hours ago, Calibandar said:

I'm watching Winning time, finding it more interesting than I originally thought.

Have you guys watched it, and what did you think?

I didnt watch any basketball in the 80's being a kid but this show, while taking many liberties apparently, is at the same time an interesting NBA history lesson for me. The Lakers-Celtics feud. Magic's rise. Kareem already being 32 at the start of the show in 1979 and then adding 9-10 more years to his career. The amusing character of Jerry West. Adrien Brody as a young Pat Riley is cool. I had never heard of Jack McKinney but the actor portrays him in a marvelous way, I had to google to see what happened after his bike accident.

As an entertaining soap opera, it is...fine.  I watched only about 90 minutes in total, but it was off-putting to me other than as a soap opera.

As anything related to reality, I would characterize it as low fact content.  It is particularly bad in two areas.

First, it portrays individuals in a manner that doesn't resemble them or their actions or their personalities at all.  It is very difficult to reconcile Jerry West the show character with Jerry West the person in real life.  He just doesn't act so melodramatically, and he is literally The Logo - people treat him with respect.  Similarly Kareem is portrayed very weirdly, not even close - he is an introvert, not whatever that is in the show.  And even characters with limited screen time are correspondingly off.  That is the main reason that I found it unpleasant, as it wasn't a comedy or a satire, so playing it as "straight" felt bad.

Second, it doesn't seem to have much sense of what the league was really like in the 80s.  It plays up a "feud" between Boston and LA, as if this was a 1:1 relationship.  It is correct in that the Celtics won in 1984 when they were expected to lose, and then lost to the Lakers in 1985 when they were expected to win, and then lost again in 1987 when Parish, McHale and Walton all broke their wheels.  That isn't a feud or rivalry any more than the Sixers losing to LA in 1980 and 1982, then utterly crushing the Lakers in "Fo'-fo'-fo'" 1983.

Really the divide I think it is trying to show was an Eastern / Western Conference cultural difference.  The East was much more competitive and much more physical league, while the West was a finesse league that, after 1979, was "The LA Lakers and the Seven Dwarves", without much real competition or suspense about who would represent the West in the Finals.  Officiating fluctuated a lot between venues, with serious physical bodying up permitted in MSG that would instantly draw a whistle in The Madhouse on McDowell - watch and compare.  Furthermore, the Eastern Conference playoffs were a brutal war of attrition from which any one of five or six teams could expect to emerge as victors - Bucks, Bullets, Celtics, Knicks, Nets or Sixers.  Whereas witness the shock and amazement in 81 and 86 when Houston beat LA, who usually just floated easily into the championship. 

Did Bird have a thing about Magic?  Sure, he lost to him in the greatest collision of college stars ever, but that was just two psychopaths butting heads, not necessarily a team rivalry.  The Lakers faced off against the Celtics slightly more than against the Sixers in Finals, so they were far more aware of the Celtics than the Celtics were of the Lakers.  The Celtics had to be on guard against the Sixers and Bucks and Knicks and so on.

So the show tries to boil that cultural gap down into "Lakers vs Celtics", but in doing so they create a rivalry that wasn't really there.  The Celtics and Lakers only played each other in two games each regular season in the 80s.  The premiere NBA rivalry in the 80s was the Sixers and the Celtics, who played each other some twenty or so times a season, counting pre-season games and the playoffs.  They played four playoff series in a six-year span up to 1985.  Caldwell Jones took down Rick Robey in a preseason game at the Spectrum and one of the Dixieland band members under the basket got injured in the scrum - that is how intense those games were.  Watch this to see a different preseason game triple-bill: Max vs. Moses, Bird vs. Ivaroni, and Bird vs. Cunnigham.  Dr. J tried to kill Bird on court for trash talking.  Harold Katz, that greedy loser, charged more for preseason Celtics games at the Spectrum, because there was no league agreement covering preseason matches.

I understand that the show focuses on the Lakers, but in driving viewer engagement, they create a situation that just didn't exist.  I understand also that the Lakers might not have liked the Celtics, but for the Celtics, the Sixers were the team that had to be defeated to earn the laurels, and vice versa.

The most positive aspect of what I watched were the elements that showed how Magic improved and matured.  Which he definitely did, and he was a very different player in 1980 than he was in 1988.  This part of the show seemed to me to track better.  And it is also correct to say that the NBA, which had squandered its TV deal and the ABA merger, then utterly failed to market itself in the late 70s despite some exciting teams and individuals, changed when Magic (and Bird) entered the league, and then shifted up a gear when Showtime began in LA around 1982.

If it spurs interest in the rejuvenation of the league that happened in the 80s, great.  That NBA period beginning with the entry of Bird and Magic to the end of innocence with the thuggery from Detroit's Bad Boys and then Riley's Knicks was pretty idyllic.  Just don't lean too heavily on this show as a source of received wisdom.

Edited by Wilbur
preseason fight video - with fine commentary
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Interesting stuff. In the 8 episodes sofar it definitely does play it as a Lakers vs Celtics battle all through the 80's, which clearly was there but there were other teams involved as well. I was reading Wikipedia yesterday on some of the names and saw a Philly team with Dr J and Moses Malone was also very much a player in the 80's.

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35 minutes ago, Calibandar said:

Interesting stuff. In the 8 episodes sofar it definitely does play it as a Lakers vs Celtics battle all through the 80's, which clearly was there but there were other teams involved as well. I was reading Wikipedia yesterday on some of the names and saw a Philly team with Dr J and Moses Malone was also very much a player in the 80's.

It's amazing chuck joined such a stacked team and didn't get a ring. Just a tiny bit too late.

Edited by BigFatCoward
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6 hours ago, BigFatCoward said:

It's amazing chuck joined such a stacked team and didn't get a ring. Just a tiny bit too late.

Allow me to preach to you from The Book of Hatred for Harold Katz.

Harold Katz was a greedy, stingy, interfering owner of the Sixers in 80s.  He bought the team from Fitz Dixon in 1981, a team that under Dixon's ownership and young coach Billy Cunnigham had built a real contender and lost in the Finals in 77 and 80 with Mo Cheeks, Andre Toney, Doug Collins, Lionel Hollins, Bobby Jones, Earl Cureton, Darryl Dawkins, Steve Mix, Caldwell Jones, Clint Richardson, and Dr. J.

The Sixers were contenders, and the main rival of the Celtics, and packed with exciting, dominating players.  When you have a team that features in the conference championship year after year, you play in The Spectrum, and your team features The Doctor, The Secretary of Defense, Chocolate Thunder, The Boston Strangler, and The Mayor, you can and should have great expectations.  Dixon understood this, and he supported Cunningham even in tough Finals and conference championship losses to the Celtics and Lakers.  He also created a back office that was player-centric, which was why players like Erving, Mix and Jones were happy to join and play for the Sixers over other options.  All of this set the table for the championship by the most dominant playoff team in NBA history in 1983.

Katz was diametrically opposed to this philosophy.  Although he did go out and trade for Moses Malone, the Chairman of the Board who finally led the Sixers to the promised land in "Fo'-fo'-fo'", he swept the back office clean, and he interfered with and fought with both the coaches and the players.  He waged war against ticket scalpers and enlisted the Philadelphia police goons in this battle.  After eliminating player perks, he raised ticket prices.  He set Cunningham up against Matty Guokas, building a rift in the coaching team, he feuded with players like Toney, a player Larry Bird said was the best clutch player he had ever seen and Charles Barkley claimed was the best teammate he ever had.  He traded away "expensive" players like Marc Iavaroni and Moses Malone.  In general he created a terrible atmosphere within the club, so much so that it was notorious, and players like Charles Barkley tried to escape being drafted by the Sixers.

So here is the clear choice for a team that can dominate the 80s along with the Lakers, Bucks and Celtics.  They have the winningest coach in Sixers history with the second-best winning percentage in NBA history.  They have a dominant lineup with the best playoff performance in NBA history.

And what does Katz do?

First, he sets up a vicious rivalry between Cunningham and yes-man assistant Matt Guokas.  Cunningham retires from coaching as a result of the back-stabbing.  Guokas, a mediocre coach, takes control.

Second, he trades away veterans because he has self-imposed a team salary cap, below anything the NBA required.  Lionel Hollins, Clint Richardson, Marc Iavaroni, Darryl Dawkins, and eventually even Moses and Toney are shown the door in what are cost-cutting measures so that he can reduce payroll.  Moses continues to be productive in the league for other teams for the rest of the decade, Dawkins has the best year of his career for the Nets of all teams, etc. etc.

Third, instead of trading these championship-winning players for other good players, he collects draft picks (cheap players!) and injured, low-quality players (also cheap!).  He traded three-time league MVP Moses Malone, architect of the 1983 Champions, for Cliff Robinson and Jeff "Sick Note" Ruland.  Yeah.

Thus in the second half of the 80s, rather than the Sixers trading Finals appearances with the Celtics, Charles Barkley took the floor on teams that tipped off with combinations including Sedale Threatt, a coffin-dodging Bob McAdoo, pensioner World B. Free, Terry Catledge, Perry Moss, David Wingate, Roy Hinson, Cliff Robinson, Jeff Ruland (when he wasn't on IR!), Mike Gminski, Hersey Hawkins, Kurt Nimphius, and Rick Mahorn.  Note how this list of players is qualitatively different from the list up above.

Barkley learned how to work and be professional from Moses in the year they overlapped, and he had one year with a healthy Andrew Toney, but by then the team atmosphere was already poisoned, and Katz was claiming Andrew Toney was faking his injuries in the Inquirer, and Cunningham was burning out in political warfare.  The Sixers fell away with bad (but very cheap!) lineups in the second half of the decade, allowing Detroit and Chicago to replace them as the Celtics and Lakers aged and injured out of contention.

So while the Celtics and Lakers lost their grip on the trophy at the end of the decade organically as their stars aged and suffered career-ending injuries, the owner took the Sixers out behind the barn and shot their ambitions in the head.

Barkley wasn't too late.  He was right on time, a superstar drafted onto a superstar team.  He improved under Moses' tutelage, and unlike Len Bias, he realized the potential he had.  But his ownership in Philadelphia threw away his chance of winning by asset-stripping the team.

Harold Katz is the single greatest reason Barkley has no rings.

Edited by Wilbur
Dr. Dunkenstein
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That was a super interesting read on why the Sixers window was so short after winning in 83.

Watching Winning Time season 1 was very much worthwhile in the end. Even Jerry West gets redeemed. It made me think about 80's NBA, what the best teams were, and how the Lakers and Celtics hold gradually dissolved because of Jordan, leading the next generation.

It also made me think about the stars in today's NBA. About the real big men, can any of them do what Kareem did with the Lakers and Bucks did and be that dominant? I'm thinking of Embiid here, as a similar giant human, but also Jokic, and as a much newer prospect, I wonder about Mobley. Towns? Davis? Ayton?

We do have a really large amount of potential big stars in the NBA right now, as they often say, the league has never been remotely as deep as this. But who will actually build a massive legacy and multiple titles. Is there one more chance for LeBron ( and AD), or 2 more for Durant? Or will team basketball dominate over individual superstars.

I'm gonna list my tiers for this season here:

West:

Tier 1 ( aka the 6 contenders) : Golden State, Suns, Clippers, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Mavericks

Tier 2: Timberwolves, Pelicans, Lakers

Tier 3: Trailblazers, Kings

Tier 4: Rockets, OKC, San Antonio, Utah

East

Tier 1: Bucks, Celtics

Tier 2: Cavs, Bulls, Heat, Nets, Sixers, Raptors, Hawks

Tier 3: Knicks, Wizards, Hornets, Pistons

Tier 4: Magic

Tier 5: Pacers

 

 

Edited by Calibandar
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It looks like the NBA has suspended Sarver for a year and fined him $10 million.

Their investigation confirmed that he used racial slurs and ran an organization that was hazardous and hostile for female employees, no surprises.

Report: Robert Sarver Is Indeed A Terrible Boss | Defector

Read this if you want the terrible details.  https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/22345239-phoenix-suns-report

Edited by Wilbur
detailed report
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4 hours ago, Wilbur said:

It looks like the NBA has suspended Sarver for a year and fined him $10 million.

Their investigation confirmed that he used racial slurs and ran an organization that was hazardous and hostile for female employees, no surprises.

Report: Robert Sarver Is Indeed A Terrible Boss | Defector

Read this if you want the terrible details.  https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/22345239-phoenix-suns-report

I'm surprised the punishment is this light. It would be interesting if someone like Booker demanded a trade over this. 

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3 hours ago, Tywin et al. said:

I'm surprised the punishment is this light. It would be interesting if someone like Booker demanded a trade over this. 

The crazy thing is that while the upper echelon of Sarver-facing execs are exactly what you would expect, there is another segment of Suns employee, including coach Monty Williams, who seem to be good folks.  Past Suns coaches have also been quality people, too - think Alvin Gentry.

Since the players interact with the coaches more than the back office, I guess that it blunts the effects of evil at the top.  Also, the Sarver people are in a different location than the coaching and support staff.

I do some coaching with Phoenix Mercury staff, and they are dedicated and caring about the girls who come to our sessions.  Sarver owns the Mercury, and their staff are not exactly overpaid, yet, they volunteer their time and expertise alongside nobodies like me in small gyms.  So it says a lot about their character and why players might ignore the owner's behavior.

After all, it isn't like other major sports franchises have had racist owners (Donald Stirling, George Preston Marshall), idiot failsons (the Bidwells, McCaskeys, Mark Davis), greedy pigs who ruined winning franchises (Harold Katz, Jerry Reinsdorf, whoever owns the Pirates since the 1990s), owners of criminal enterprises (Jimmy Halsam), etc. etc.

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19 hours ago, Tywin et al. said:

I'm surprised the punishment is this light. It would be interesting if someone like Booker demanded a trade over this. 

I'm not.  The NBA, much like the NFL, ultimately doesn't care about women.  If Sarver had done something racist, he'd be out, because the players actually care about that.

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5 minutes ago, briantw said:

I'm not.  The NBA, much like the NFL, ultimately doesn't care about women.  If Sarver had done something racist, he'd be out, because the players actually care about that.

He did though didn't he?  I thought he dropped the N word a handful of times.

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There was audio/video of Sterling being racist, and the other owners disliked Sterling.  He owned and ran the Clippers like a JV team, and he brought the league into disrepute because of the manner in which the Clips operated throughout the 80s and 90s.

Other than the distasteful roast video, there wasn't anything other than witness testimony against Sarver.  And he hasn't been a thorn in the side of the other owners like Sterling was.  He is a cheapskate, but not to the incredible levels of the Clippers' organization lack of professionalism in the 80s and 90s.

Sterling was an attorney, and no one really likes lawyers.  Sarver is a banker who inherited his daddy's bank, and everyone loves money.

Thus no owners' vote was ever called for Sarver.

Unfortunately.

Edited by Wilbur
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11 minutes ago, briantw said:

Apparently not enough to get taken down like Sterling. 

Only because it wasn't on tape. He was told in 2004 to stop using the N word and the NBA found at least four more verifiable instances of him doing so. If any of those were on tape, especially the time he repeated it several times, he'd be finished.

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24 minutes ago, Wilbur said:

There was audio/video of Sterling being racist, and the other owners disliked Sterling.  He owned and ran the Clippers like a JV team, and he brought the league into disrepute because of the manner in which the Clips operated throughout the 80s and 90s.

Yeah Sterling had a lot of other baggage that made him dispensable to the other owners.

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Also, players were threatening to boycott during the playoffs when the Sterling mess blew up.

Anyways, LeBron has now spoken out as well as CP3 and obviously they're not happy with the punishment. I would not take an indefinite suspension as a means to force a sale off the table. You cannot be a white owner using the N word repeatedly in a league where the overwhelming majority of the players are black and they have the most agency of any athletes in North America. This feels like a when, not if, situation.

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/34593743/after-robert-sarver-investigation-lebron-james-adamant-nba-definitely-got-wrong

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Sponsors are getting involved.  PayPal says they will pull their sponsorship if he stays.  (They were the on uniform patch sponsor for the Suns.)

Wont be long now.

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43 minutes ago, Rhom said:

Sponsors are getting involved.  PayPal says they will pull their sponsorship if he stays.  (They were the on uniform patch sponsor for the Suns.)

Wont be long now.

A lot more will likely have to snowball before he's forced to sell the team. 

 

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